Published: 2009-12-09

More than 26,000 students took part in the annual Magnet Student Survey in 2009. Excitement stirred at the Sandton Convention Centre, as 150 of SA's top employers gathered at the Magnet Awards Ceremony to find out which companies were voted for by the students as the ideal company to work for.  

The results from this survey are divided into the ideal employers in four main areas of study - Commerce, Engineering and Technology, Science and Humanities. Prizes were also awarded to the top employers in fifteen industries. These rankings are particularly interesting as the companies in different industries now vie for the same talent pool.  

Absa proved particularly popular among the commerce students by maintaining the number one spot as Ideal Employer since 2006. "We have achieved this by using a targeted approach of looking at our target audience, focussing our Employer Value Proposition on what attracts them and continuously working on building our brand within that target audience. This together with the Absa brand as a whole, helps to position Absa as an Employer of Choice within the student market, "says Debbie Marshall from Absa.

KPMG, one of the world's largest professional service firms was also ranked highly by the same set of students, securing the 2nd position, whilst South African Reserve Bank (SARB) held onto its 3rd place for the 2nd year running.  

Once again, Eskom has held onto the position as the most desirable company to work for in South Africa, according to engineering students nationwide. Eskom's acting Human Resources MD Elsie Pule said: "We have invested heavily in talent management," even though this year Eskom ceased hiring new recruits."  Eskom is followed by Sasol in 2nd place and by mining giant Anglo Platinum in 3rd place.  

Of all the organisations that received awards, Sasol is the only one to appear amongst the top 3 in more than one category as an attractive employer amongst students. In addition to being the 2nd place employer in engineering - Sasol is the definite favourite amongst the Science students in South Africa.  This energy giant took the 1st place position in 2005 and has continued to attract talented students to their organisation for the past 5 years. In addition to being the science group's top choice, the petrochemical firm was also awarded the second place in the engineering category. In 2nd place for science is the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries & Forestry and 3rd employer of choice was awarded to CSIR.  

"We have invested heavily in student support programmes such as undergraduate bursaries, internships, masters and PhD studentships. The CSIR also became a lot more involved in building a closer bond between the students. We accomplished this through various initiatives ranging from regular visits to students in their respective universities; hosting our students for vacation work that is relevant to their studies in our laboratories; sending CSIR newsletters and publications; and maintaining continuous electronic communication with students throughout the country, " says CSIR.  

Despite a public image tainted by allegations against its board, SABC is still viewed as an attractive employer in South Africa. Amongst the Humanities students, SABC proved yet again that it deserves its place as the Ideal Employer. "There is no such thing as bad publicity", says Dr. Patience Naves at the Magnet Awards Ceremony last week.  

Interesting to note that this year, two government departments scoped prizes due to their increased popularity amongst the students - the Department of International Relations & Cooperation ranked 2nd and the Department of Rural Development & Land Reform was awarded 3rdplace as Ideal Employers. These two departments have shifted media conglomerate Media24 from its position in 3rd place in 2008 down to 4th place in 2009.

"The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform has been providing bursaries to students particularly for scarce skills areas such as Bsc Geomatics, National diploma in Survey and Town and regional planning," said Jenny Jacobs who received the award on behalf of the department. "The Department has also been visiting students on campus more frequently and attending Universities of Technology on their open days. These are all possible reasons for their increased popularity as an Ideal Employer amongst the SA students, says Magnet Communications.

The survey showed that South Africa's government in its entirety was the best overall business entity to work for. Government officials attending the awards ceremony were all of the same consensus that working for government provided students with much sought- after job security, indicated as one of the top three career goals of all students in South Africa.  

Companies were also awarded for their position in a particular industry. This year Group 5 was awarded the 1st industry award in the construction industry. Junaid Allie, Human Resources Director comments on possible reasons why Group 5 stands out amongst other construction giants in South Africa. "Group 5 is a well established construction and engineering organisation with a brand statement that talks about structured ingenuity. We position ourselves as a company amongst graduates and professional by focusing on this brand statement. What this means, is that we will offer structure in everything we do and will also be ingenious & creative in the things that we offer. " 

The survey is independent and the company listing of 130 companies is generated by the students themselves. As companies continue to compete for scarce skills, and develop recruitment strategies to appeal to fresh graduates, the survey gives employers an indication of the effectiveness of their recruitment strategies and the values which will also retain talent. 



% of Respondents (RANK):

  • Absa 21.25% (1)
  • KPMG 17.75% (2)
  • South African Reserve Bank (SARB) 15.16% (3)


% of Respondents (RANK):

  • Eskom 28.21% (1)
  • Sasol 25.77% (2)
  • Anglo Platinum 22.29 % (3)


% of Respondents (RANK):

  • Sasol 17.22 % (1)
  • Department of Agriculture, Fisheries & Forestry 14.63 % (2)
  • CSIR 14.31 % (3)


% of Respondents (RANK):

  • SABC 23.13 % (1)
  • Department of International Relations & Cooperation (Foreign Affairs)  11.84 % (2)
  • Department of Rural Development & Land Affairs 11.53 % (3)
 For more information, please contact:

Magnet Communications

Claire Butler, (National Research SA)

Tel: 021 422 4953


Recent News